Koh Samui: The secret island gem of Southeast Asia’s hospitality scene

Over the past week, we have been compiling our newest hospitality, tourism, and lodge research on Thailand’s second-largest island, Koh Samui. The island stays a bit of a ‘little-big’ anomaly in Southeast Asia’s massive resort island arsenal. Despite hosting famed international hotel manufacturers such as Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, W, InterContinental, and Banyan Tree, its smallish personal airport capability has by some means created a natural barrier to mass tourism within the development-crazed last 25 years.
Looking at the tourism recovery trajectory in our newly launched Samui Hotel Market Update 2023, the best phrase I might use for development was the impish time period ‘moderate.’ No, the island has not broken into a full sweat, however wanting on the mounting lodge room night demand in Q4 of last yr and into the primary quarter of 2023, there are optimistic indicators of momentum.
One of crucial pieces of recovery information is the re-starting of direct flights between Hong Kong and Koh Samui by Bangkok Airways starting the first of July. Three weekly flights are set, using an Airbus A319 aircraft. Mainland China flights are also on the books for May which is another strong positive. And for resorts, room evening demand has been rising at a fantastic pace this 12 months.
But, that is the conundrum, the vacation spot has restricted low-cost airline entry, with restricted numbers coming from the mainland’s Surat Thani airport and then taking a ferry. While Incredibly as Phuket and Pattaya hotels have been on a pointy incline upward, Koh Samui’s return to normal continues to be slower and at a extra protracted tempo
But my point here is, maybe that’s okay. As fast-growing resort islands throughout Asia grapple with excessive inhabitants growth, traffic woes, and damaged infrastructure, maybe Koh Samui’s airport-imposed limitation just isn’t totally a nasty factor. Smaller can typically be higher and chasing the endless tail of progress just isn’t the right recipe for every vacation spot.
One of the area of interest tourism segments that the island has maintained over time is wellness. The Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa remain one of Asia’s best-in-class offerings. Rumoured to be increasing their current operation with additional land, we can’t wait to see what’s in retailer subsequent for this icon.
Another well being and wellness product, Vikasa attracts a worldwide audience with its yoga training and in-house applications. They have been profitable enough to faucet into funding from the Alta Capital personal equity group and are within the strategy of expanding to other regional markets.
The backside line for health, wellness, and health journey is how sustainable the marketplace is given a high return visitor profile, exceptional in-house spending at a time when resorts are shedding visitors to exterior restaurants, and most significantly an extended average length of keep. Why the latter is important for smaller locations where typical regional tourists might spend 2-3 nights on a brief break on the seaside, whereas program-driven travellers might keep 5-7 nights, therefore requiring less flight frequency.
Moving off of Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan which is famed for its epic Full Moon Party, has continued to attract extra spiritual-oriented travellers, in search of meditation, non secular connections, healthy eating, and a like-minded social scene. Again, this could be a very particular demographic, but not every vacation spot has to cowl tourism in an A-Z travellers cookbook.
As for the thought of how to battle a surge in resort island urbanization that has plagued mass-market locations corresponding to Bali, Phuket, and Boracay, there is a lot to be said for sharing the business with other nearby places. Take the Surat Thani mainland and Nakhon Si Thammarat with stunning white sand tropical beaches in Sichon and Khanom and different coastal areas. Plus, there are two large-scale airports in both of those provinces which have progress capability and provide entry to larger jet aircraft.
Real property in Koh Samui at the larger pricing factors is especially villas and the island has seen two decades of development with an impressive array of merchandise. Villa leases continue to draw the posh market and create a beautiful various to motels. One pattern in other Thai leisure destinations that the island has prevented is a build-up of midrise condominium resorts (often known as condotels), with the native authorities pushing again on these types of developments. Often relegated to low-rate mass travel and many instances unlicensed, their absence isn’t altogether unwelcomed.
But many island businesses are of the opinion that the failure to expand the present airport and the lack of a new website with a longer runway stays a blight on the economic system. Late final year the Expressway Authority of Thailand (Expat) announced plans for a feasibility examine to link Koh Samui and the mainland, via Khanom in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Whether the island needs a bridge or not, many suppose the money could be better spent in rehabilitating the present ageing infrastructure..

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